Today we are focusing on Paul McNeilly, a 42 year old experienced and talented driver. During the 2014 season he has been competing in the British GT Championship and he also did some rounds in the Michelin GT4 Supercup.
What is the British GT Championship?
The Avon British GT championship exhibits the most distinguished and admired sports car grid of any other national motorsport championships in the whole entire world. During the 2014 season the championship visited six circuits in the UK as well as one international event held at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. For the fans and spectators around the country the British GT championship offers a breathtaking motorsport experience. It includes some fascinating supercars that are racing bumper to bumper with breathtaking speeds, an intriguing amount of noise and a lot of drama including pit stops and driver changes, the experiences of these races is one spectators do not want to miss out on. The championship during 2014 was split into two classes which were GT3 and GT4.
The GT3 C lass closely reflect their road going equivalents, this is so that it keeps maintenance costs to a minimum. GT3 specifications race cars allow limited alterations to the suspension, engine and body work on each of the cars. This includes cars such as Audi R8 LMS ultra, Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, Porsche 997 GT3 R, BMW Z4 GT3, McClarren MP4-12C, Mercedes AMG SLS GT3, the Nissan Nismo GT-R GT3, the Aston Martin’s V12 Vantage and the new Bentley Continental GT3.
The GT4 class includes a mixture of GT4 approved cars. This is the closest class of road cars you will find that you can race. This class provides fascinating cars such as all the new Toyota GT86 GT4, Lotus Evora GT4, Nissan 370Z, BMW M3 GT4, Aston Martin N24, Porsche Cup GT4 and of course the highly successful Ginetta G50 and Ginetta G55s.
The championship points for the Avon Tyres British GT Championship are different for each of the classes. The GT3 class is the class that decides the overall British GT Championhip title. Each of the classes score points as follows;
1st place – 25 points
2nd place – 18 points
3rd place – 15 points
4th place – 12 points
5th place – 10 points
6th place – 8 points
7th place – 6 points
8th place – 4 points
9th place – 2 points
10th – 1 point
But for races that are for two hours or more points are one and a half times what they are in a normal race. 1st place get 37.5 points, 2nd place gets 27 points, 3rd place gets 22.5 points, 4th place gets 18 points, 5th place get 15 points, 6th place get 12 points, 7th place gets 9 points, 8th place gets points, 9th gets 3 points and 10th place gets 1.5 points. The first three cars in each class after the race get a time penalty that is applied to the mandatory pit stop they must do in the following race. The first car in each class gets a time penalty of 15 seconds. Then the second car in each class gets a time penalty of 10 seconds and the third car in each class gets a 5 second time penalty. Each car from each class gets an extra 5 seconds added on to the time penalty if the race is longer than one hour long. Each driver in the series must hold a racing license of at least an International grade C. Drivers are then categorized into four groups; Group A, Group B, Group C and Group D, they are categorized according to their experience and successes. Grade A drivers may only partner up with a driver from category D or C. Drivers who partner up from category A and C will carry 85kg. Grade B drivers can only partner up with a driver from Category D or C. Drivers from Category B and C who partner up will carry 75kg. Grade C drivers who team up with a fellow Grade C driver will carry an adjusted weight of 65kg. All other pairing combinations are permitted. At the race events, twin race meetings will feature two separate one hour races, three to four of the endurance events each host a single two hour race and there will be a one off three hour endurance race. During the three hour endurance race, depending on the organisers decision there can be a possibilty of having three drivers to one car so that each driver does a one hour stint each. At each race there is a mandatory pit stop where drivers must be changed. During the one hour races it must be carried out between 23 and 37 minutes. During the two hour races, the mandatory pit stop also includes refuelling the cars as well as changing driver, therefore the minimum duration of the pit stop was increased. Drivers must only do a maximum of 50 minutes on track in one go but teams are free to call their drivers in whenever they want to as long as it is before the drivers 50 minutes are up. During the three hour races, drivers are permitted to race a maximum of 100 minutes for the two driver crews. For the two driver crews the minimum time on track is 80 minutes and the minimum time on track for the three driver teams was 40 minutes. There is also three mandatory pit stops durong the three hour race. All cars MUST use Avon Tyres, each car is restricted to using a maximum of eight slick tyres per race meeting. There is no restriction for the amount of wet weather tyres that driver may use. Also all of the cars must run on a control fuel.
About Paul McNeilly
Paul has been involved within motorsport for 7 years. He was first interested in motorsport when he used to regularly go down to Brands Hatch in Kent to go and watch his uncle racing a motorbike, when Paul was just a little boy, that was when he caught the bug and realised that he wanted to race or at least be involved within motorsport. Paul’s favourite championship to race in so far throughout his career within motorsport is British GT because he found it to be a fantastic championship, he also enjoyed the fact that he got to race against some well known big names during his time competing in the championship. By racing against some really experienced big name driver Paul was able to gain even more experience and push himself further within the championship. Another thing that Paul enjoyed about the championship was getting the chance to drive such an amazing car and being able to compete against other fantastic cars. His favourite driver and idol is Alex Zanardi, he chose Alex Zanardi because he showed everyone that no matter what happens in life you can always live the dream you want. His future ambitions is to grow the Fox Motorsport team and to give younger drivers the chance and opportunity to race a GT car to gain them more experience. His future career goal is to race at Le Mans, he feels that it is the ultimate goal for any GT driver as Le Mans is the most prestigious 24 hour event. Also Paul’s favourite track is Spa-Francorchamps because he feels it is a great place to race at and also he always has a great weekend when he’s racing there. The scariest thing to ever happen to Paul was when his son dragged him and made him take him on some of the scariest roller coasters ever. His son is currently at the right height to go on all roller coasters and because Paul’s wife won’t go on any roller coasters, it means Paul has to take him on any roller coaster he wants to go on.
Paul’s Motorsport History/Career.
Paul started karting when he was about 18, he competed in the Club 100 mainly. Then he went on and started his car racing career at Brands Hatch in the Lotus Eilise Trophy back in 2009. He is now involved in his son Liam’s motorsport career as he is racing in the Honda Cadets with the Zip Allstars team. Paul works as Team Principal for Fox Motorsport, therefore he is involved with the day to day running of the team, he also helps the Zip Allstars team out when his son is racing. Most of Paul’s family are involved in motorsport. Jamie Stanley, the driver Paul shares driving in the British GTs with, was the one person who brought Paul from just being a trackday driver and coached him to where he currenty is now. He hopes to one day be able to compete in the WEC but he feels that he would only be able to do this if he was luckily enough to win the lottery. In 10 years time Paul thinks he will be racing historic cars somewhere around the world. If he ever encounters any trouble on track he copes with it by not panicking, keeps in contact with his team at all times whilst out on track and if there is any problems with the car he would focus on trying to get the car back to the pits so that the team could work on it as soon as possible to get what ever the problem was fixed. Paul feels that he doesn’t have much time to get excited before a race weekend because of it being his own team, he has to spend two days checking the teams kit and ensuring they pack everything they will need and preparing for the weekend of racing. He also has to load everything up and double check everything to make sure they don’t forget anything before they set off and head for the circuit. By the time he finally starts to get excited it’s time for him to get into the race car and get in the zone for racing. Paul really enjoy being with and being part of a team because he feels that having the right members in the team is vital and a good atmosphere is really important when being involved in motorsport. But also at the same time they are all there to do their own individual job and it is vital that they all do their different jobs properly. His training regime involves eating properly and keeping active, he chooses to do plenty of walking and cycling in his spare time to keep fit and healthy. The main foods he chooses to eat to keep healthy is pasta, chicken and salads. The one thing Paul would not do due to him thinking it is too dangerous is driving a motorbike in the UK. He gave up riding his Ducati a few years ago due to it not being an ideal thing to drive within the UK, but he still loves it and loves looking at it. If Paul was not driving a car in motorsport, he would still want to be involved in motorsport in some way. He would either want to be runnng a team, series or being a marshal at motorsport venues. He is motivated by success, he feels that to win on track is an amazing, undescribable feeling. He was inspired during the Super Touring Car Era, when he would sit and watch the likes of Cleland, Soper and Winckelhock banging doors during the early 1990s. This inspired Paul to want to race within motorsport. In the past Paul has raced for FF Corse in the British GT and GT Cup, Lotus on Track in the Dubai 24 hours. He has also raced for Fox Motorsport in the Lotus Cup UK, Lotus Cup Europe, Britcar, British GT and Ginetta GT4 Supercup.
During his 2014 season he was racing in the British GTs for Fox Motorsport in the GT4 class and he also did two round of the TOCA package Ginetta GT4 Supercup at Silverstone and Brands Hatch. The reason he chose to race in the British GTs is because at the end of last year they brought a Ginetta G55, then they decided that they wanted to be racing and running the car in a high profile championship. He likes endurance racing as it gives him a chance to improve his skills by having a pro driver on board with his team. The championship he chose is split into two classes, GT3s and GT4s. The GT3 class is for the quicker cars running more power and different regulations. Whereas, the GT4 class is more for road like cars running 350-400bhp. He finished 8th in the Drivers Championship and they finished 7th in the Teams Championship. Next year he will be back in the British GTs as 2014 was a learning year for him and his team, next year they hope to have a good go at trying to get the championship title. During the 2014 British GT season he felt his lap times were pretty good considering it was his first year being in the car in British GT. They were also often the fastest Ginetta during qualifying. From what Paul can remember, most of the races he took part in were in dry conditions. He found that Oulton Park was quite scary and dangerous for British GTs to be racing on as there weren’t many straights for the GT3s to be able to be let past GT4s, so therefore he had GT3 cars passing him dangerously on mid corners. Him and the team felt that they struggled at Donington with the car set up because the car was really unstable but it was due to the balance of performance imposed by British GTs. Most of the tracks Paul raced at during 2014 were dry except Spa was greasy on track and Brands Hatch final of the Ginetta GT4 Supercup was very wet. Some of the weekends Paul raced at he found tough like; Spa-Francorchamps, Snetterton and Silverstone in the British GTs, but the podium at Brands Hatch during the his season in British GTs was fantastic. He also gave a really strong performance during his outings in the Ginetta GT4 Supercup at the end of the season. During his season in the British GTs he came away with barely any damage, if he got any. Then in his final outing at Brands Hatch in the Ginetta GT4 Supercup he came away from that weekend with front clamp damage and a broken wheel. He wasn’t involved in any incidents on track in the British GTs, but during his races in the Ginetta GT4 Supercup he was involved in some incidents with other drivers on track. This happened as they were all battling for places after the lights went out and everyone wanted to get to the front of the pack. The only times Paul went off track throughout the season was when he was exploring grip across the tracks during his testing sessions, plus he also had a trip into one of the gravel traps at Brands Hatch during his outing in the final of the Ginetta GT4 Supercup. During his 2014 year of racing Paul set personal lap times at all of the circuits he visited as it was his first year in the Ginetta G55.
Keep your eyes peeled on Paul McNeilly, he has some really good potential to go further within Endurance racing. Give Paul a follow on twitter @FoxMotorsportOT . Also can you give me a follow on there too @tilleyphotos , in addition please go and like my facebook page http://www.facebook.com/tilley.photos
© Fay Tilley 5th December 2014.